Walkin' Butterfly Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Aurora Publishing, Inc.
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 978-1934496008
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Walkin' Butterfly

Walkin' Butterfly Vol. #01

By Sakura Eries     July 02, 2008
Release Date: August 22, 2007

Walkin' Butterfly Vol.#01
© Aurora Publishing, Inc.

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Chihiro Tamaki
Translated by:HC Language Solutions
Adapted by:HC Language Solutions

What They Say
As a tall girl, Michiko has never fit in... literally. Her height is matched only by her complex about it. But while delivering pizzas at a fashion show, she is mistaken for a model and thrust on stage. Mihara, the show's designer, confronts her and tells her that she can't walk the catwalk because she doesn't know her true self. From that moment on, Michiko becomes determined to find her place in the world as a model - and as a young woman. Can she find the inner strength to undergo a spectacular transformation?

The Review
The illustration featured on the front cover is a close-up of Michiko's face from the watercolor that can be found on the title page. Michiko faces forward, scowling at her angry delinquent worst. I don't know if the cover is rendered in the watercolor's original color scheme, but Michiko is shown in an orange tint. All lettering on the front cover is white. The author's name is aligned towards the left near the top while the title and volume number is aligned to the lower left. In addition, the letters for the title are superimposed over the illustration in five columns and three rows.

The back cover features a close-up of Michiko's foot from that title page drawing. Again, the design is rendered in orange tones with white text. The manga title is repeated at the top, and the story summary is aligned to the left. At the very bottom are rating and publisher icons and the ISBN barcode.

Materials for this title are pretty good. The pages are thick and bright white, and the copy quality is crisp and excellent. The binding is durable though it is on the stiff side. The amount of story material presented is a bit on the short side though -- only two chapters which are covered in 134 pages. Also, some of the original Japanese dialogue text was not removed in a few places. Extras include a page of sketches, a six-page bonus manga about Michiko as a 10-year-old, a six-page interview (aligned left to right) with the mangaka that includes photographs, and ads for other Aurora titles.

Despite the fact that this is a manga about a girl's foray into modeling, don't expect pretty, refined pictures here, and Michiko is certainly not a "cute" character. Though Tamaki has a fairly good sense of pacing, her drawing style is very rough. In one place, Ryo's black hair is darkened with scribble instead of being completely inked in. The short bonus manga about Michiko's childhood looks like it was entirely drawn with a felt tip pen. Michiko is a very angry, very emotional character, and every few pages, her face is distorted to an almost demonic quality as she expresses rage, surprise, and anguish. Despite all the crazy facial expressions, the body proportions of Tamaki's characters stay in the realm of realistic. I should mention that Tamaki shows full on body nudity in this title, and when I say nudity, I mean that she leaves nothing to the imagination.

The quality of the translation was a bit mixed. Overall, Aurora does a good job of making Michiko sound like a delinquent and conveying the grittiness of the characters that she meets. However, there are numerous punctuation and a few verb tense errors in the dialogue, and one place where I think that they are missing a word. At one point, Michiko says that Nishikino makes her "feel as strong as an atom" which sounds a bit odd strange. Regarding honorifics, they've all been changed to English equivalents.

Business cards are translated with overlays. Other vital text, such as words on a chalkboard, have translations in block text placed just below the original Japanese characters, but most text, including just about all the signage, are untranslated. Sound effects are translated with mostly plain block text beside the originals.

Michiko has always stood out -- literally. As the tallest girl in her class, she's always been teased by people and rejected by the boys. As a result, she's developed a huge complex about her height. Now at 19, she's a former delinquent and high school dropout without a steady job who is too insecure to confess to the man she is in love with. She's dying to change, but she feels trapped within her own body.

Then one day everything changes. While delivering pizzas at a fashion show, she is mistaken for a model. Dragged into the dressing area, she encounters several girls as tall as she. Not only are the models completely comfortable with their height, but Michiko watches in wonder as they flaunt their bodies on the catwalk. However, just when Michiko thinks that she's found the perfect place where she can fit in, Mihara, the show's designer, spots her as an outsider. After calling her "an ordinary Amazon," he abruptly tells her to leave. Incensed, Michiko defiantly runs out to the catwalk, but just as Mihara predicts, she embarrasses herself before the crowd and flees in disgrace.

Despite her humiliation, Michiko cannot forget the world she briefly glimpsed and sets a goal for herself: to wreak revenge upon Mihara by becoming a model that he desires for his shows! But where to start? Michiko knows nothing about modeling. However, through a chance encounter with one of the fashion show's organizers, she gets a lead to a modeling agency. But will she be able to convince the yakuza-like director to take her on?

Walkin' Butterfly is reminiscent in many ways of GTO as both star former delinquent biker characters trying to make it in worlds where no one thinks they belong. However, Walkin' Butterfly also has a large aspect of the awkward misfit trying to find her place in the world to the plot. As such, this title is an interesting balance of comedy and poignancy as Michiko butts heads with everyone around her and rails against the unfairness of life but also grapples with insecurity and the feeling that there is no point to her life.

I think that Michiko is a character that girls with body image problems will readily relate to. Despite her tough girl front, Michiko is quite sensitive about remarks people make about her. Socially awkward, Michiko despairs of ever finding a boyfriend or having a "normal life" because of her body. She attributes all her life's problems to her height though not all of them are height related (I don't think that being a delinquent has anything to do with being tall), but such wholesale blame is a very human thing to do.

In regards to Michiko making it into the world of modeling, the storyline isn't particularly realistic. If Japan is anything like the United States, modeling is a competitive enough field such that no one will bother tolerating an amateur with a temperament as difficult as Michiko's. However, her rocky foray towards her goal with its fits and starts make her a character that readers can feel for and become interested in.

Michiko's transformation from deadbeat delinquent to a girl with a goal is primarily fueled by the two main male characters, Nishikino and Mihara. Nishikino is very much the boy next door type character although he's more rough and blue-collar than the traditional stereotype. He's sensitive to Michiko's problems and is always willing to lend her a friendly ear. And most importantly, he is actually taller than Michiko. He might as well have "Michiko's perfect man" written all over him. While Nishikino provides positive encouragement, Mihara drives Michiko by being her target for revenge. An up-and-coming designer, he has no interest in Michiko at all and simply serves as a reminder of the level she aspires to -- at least for now.

This title is rated 16+ for nudity, strong language, sexual situations, and violence.


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